Checklist for Justice in worship

The following is a check list for planning worship services that reflect a concern for justice; this list was distributed at the "Just Worship" conference in Edmonton, Alberta, in January 2003.

Checklist for justice in worship

The following is a check list for planning worship services that reflect a concern for justice; this list was distributed at the "Just Worship" conference in Edmonton, Alberta, in January 2003.

Who are the ‘least' in our church?  In our community?  In our world?  How can our worship reflect God's special love and passionate concern for the ‘least' among us?

Because worship shapes our practical theology, it is essential that our worship reflect God's special love and passionate concern for the poor and excluded.  This can be done through the different elements of worship services and through how we use our space.

Worship Services:

  • How can the way we plan worship reflect God's special love and passionate concern for the poor and excluded?   Who are the ‘least' in our church?  In our community?  How can our worship reflect our respect for them? 
  • What can we do to expand the range of our intercessory prayer life in worship to include aspects of social justice?
  • How can we include more Psalms (sung or spoken) that pray for justice, reflecting the concern for justice in the Psalter?
  • What can we do to name participating in structural injustice as part of our weekly confession of sin?
  • How can we best preach on issues of justice that relate to the congregation, to the catholic church, and to our world; recognizing that worship is inevitably political and not shying away from political topics?
  • Do the scripture passages we use in worship reflect the full counsel of God, the themes throughout the Bible, including justice?   What if instead of or in addition to the weekly reading of the law we read the Beatitudes from Luke?  What if before each sermon Jesus' mission statement from Luke 4 were proclaimed?
  • What can we do in our celebration of the Lord's Supper to recognize that in it we are made brothers and sisters in Christ?  Does the way we celebrate affect the way we treat one another?
  • Do we celebrate being baptized into Christ and his mission in the world? 
  • How can our worship involve people as whole persons, and give a vision for shalom?

Space:

  • How can the images in our worship space reflect God's special love and concern for the ‘least'?  What images are used?  What do they communicate? 
  • What does the way we use space and who we have up front communicate about power and authority?
  • How can we think about our worship space as sanctuary - in the sense of being holy and in the sense of being a place of refuge (i.e. for undocumented immigrants, or for folks needing a safe place to be during the day?)
  • How does our budget for worship specifically and as a church overall reflect God's concern for the poor and excluded?

Resources

Sing! A New Creation from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Faith Alive Resources, and Reformed Church Press

Reformed Worship 68 (June 2003) is a theme issue on worship and justice. 

A Wee Worship Book from Wild Goose Worship Group

Imaging the Word from United Church Press

Bread for the Enemy:  A Peace and Justice Lectionary ed. Dorothy Jean Weaver, from the Mennonite Church USA

Worship and Politics by Rafael Avila, Liturgy and Social Justice ed. Mark Searle, Worship and Politics by Albert F. Gedraitus

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